Safety in Production

For occupational and process safety as well as health and environmental protection and corporate security, we rely on comprehensive preventive measures and expect the cooperation of all employees and contractors. Our global safety and security concepts serve to protect our employees, contractors and neighbors, to prevent property and environmental damage, and to protect information and company assets.

The graphic depicts the different stations along the value chain. The topics in each chapter address the station shown in light blue. (here: BASF) (graphic)


  • Global safety standards
  • Strengthening risk awareness
  • Comprehensive incident analyses and global experience and information exchange

The safety of our employees, contractors and neighbors, and protecting the environment is our top priority. This is why we have set ourselves ambitious goals for occupational and process safety as well as health protection.

We stipulate mandatory global standards for safety, security, and environmental and health protection. A worldwide network of experts ensures these are implemented. As part of our continuous improvement process, we regularly monitor progress toward our goals.

We promote risk awareness for every individual with measures such as systematic hazard assessments, specific and ongoing qualification measures and global safety initiatives.

We analyze accidents, incidents and their causes in detail at a global level to learn from these. Hazard analyses and the risk minimization measures derived from them are an important prevention tool. We also promote regular dialog across different sites to strengthen risk awareness among our employees and contractors, to learn from examples of good practice and in this way, continually develop our safety culture.

By 2022, we will introduce digital solutions and applications at more than 350 of our plants to further increase the safety, security, planning capability and availability of our plants. For example, augmented reality solutions will support daily operations by providing direct, fast access to the required information with mobile end devices and apps. Other digital solutions will enable us to perform predictive maintenance or efficiently simulate maintenance and production processes in digital plant models.

Based on our corporate values, leaders serve as safety role models for our employees. Environmental protection, health, safety and security are discussed with newly appointed senior executives. Senior executives with a particular responsibility for such topics, for example in production, also receive specific further training to be able to meet their responsibilities.

Global safety initiative

  • Focus of Global Safety Days: “Safe choices become safe habits”

Our global safety initiative was established in 2008 and plays a key role in the ongoing development of our safety culture. With around 1,000 events at 325 sites, the focus of our Global Safety Days in 2019 was “Safe choices become safe habits.” Around the globe, 80,000 participants took the opportunity to learn about practical examples and gain valuable insights around risk-aware behavior and conscious decision-making. Around 7,500 employees and contractors registered to participate at the Ludwigshafen site alone. The events offered centrally were therefore 90% booked out. This involvement and lively discussion make a major contribution to the safety culture.

Occupational safety

  • New tools to prevent work-related accidents
  • Employees and contractors worldwide instructed on safe behavior

Our aim is to reduce the worldwide lost-time injury rate to no more than 0.1 per 200,000 working hours1 by 2025. To prevent work-related accidents, we encourage and promote risk-conscious behavior and safe working practices for every individual, learning from incidents and regular exchange of experiences. We are constantly refining and enhancing our requirements.

2025 target

Reduction of worldwide lost-time injury rate per 200,000 working hours

≤ 0.1

In addition to the legally required briefings, we also held training courses on safe procedures in 2019 to strengthen risk awareness among our employees and contractors and prevent work-related accidents.

Furthermore, our training center at the Ludwigshafen site in Germany has offered continual further education on diverse safety and security topics for employees and contractors since 2010. Some 11,800 participants received training there in 2019.

Improving health and safety with digitalization

Digitalization and the associated innovative technologies open up numerous new opportunities for us to improve occupational safety, make safety training more realistic and effective, and better link medical care around the world. In 2019, we therefore held workshops to enable internal safety experts from various disciplines to brainstorm ideas together and develop solutions. The remarkable number of suggestions – around 300 – shows the enormous potential of digitalization for health and safety. Many of the ideas are feasible and we are working on their implementation. Examples include projects to detect whether a person is wearing personal protective equipment, to locate missing persons in an emergency, virtual reality training for the fire department or telemedicine applications. Since 2018, Digital Lunch@EHS events have been held several times a year to keep experts and employees from the business units up to date with the latest developments, present progress made, inspire new applications and strengthen dialog.

Improving health and safety with digitalization (Photo)

In 2019, 0.3 work-related accidents per 200,000 working hours1 occurred at BASF sites worldwide (2018: 0.3). The proportion of chemical-related accidents rose slightly to 7% (2018: 6%). Unfortunately, there was one fatal work-related accident in 2019 (2018: 3). In October, an employee of BASF Polska Sp. z o.o. succumbed to injuries sustained from falling down the stairs during a business event outside of company premises. BASF is supporting the relevant authorities in their investigation into the circumstances and cause of the accident. We use the findings to take appropriate measures to prevent this from happening again. Such measures include regular information and awareness campaigns.

Process safety

  • Regular review of plant safety concepts and performance of implementation checks and safety-related measures
  • Global initiatives to reduce process safety incidents
  • Network of experts and global training methods foster dialog

Process safety is a core part of safe, effective and thus sustainable production. We meet high safety standards in the planning, construction and operation of our plants around the world. These meet and, in some cases, go beyond local legal requirements.

Our global process safety standards provide the framework for the safe construction and operation of our plants as well as the protection of people and the environment. Our experts have developed a plant safety concept and implementation check for every plant that considers the key aspects of safety, health and environmental protection – from conception to startup – and stipulates specific protection measures.

In order to maintain the highest level of safety at our plants across their entire life cycles, we verify that our protection concepts, safety reviews and resulting safety measures have been carried out in all our plants at timely intervals based on risk potential. We regularly update our plants’ safety and security concepts in line with changing technologies and as necessary.

2025 target

Reduction of worldwide process safety incidents per 200,000 working hours

≤ 0.1

We use the number of process safety incidents (PSI) per 200,000 working hours1 as a reporting indicator. We have set ourselves the goal of reducing process safety incidents to a rate of no more than 0.1 per 200,000 working hours by 2025. In 2019, we recorded 0.3 process safety incidents per 200,000 working hours worldwide (2018: 0.3). We pursue continual improvement by investigating every incident in detail, analyzing causes and using the findings to derive suitable measures. In addition, training methods are continually refined and enhanced to increase risk awareness.

We are constantly working to increase the availability of our plants and determine the right point in time for maintenance measures and revamping/refurbishment. The aim is to further reduce unscheduled shutdowns. To achieve this, we launched a digitalization project in 2017, which was first implemented in 2018 at a number of plants in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and then extended in 2019 to further plants in Ludwigshafen a well as in Schwarzheide, Germany, and Antwerp, Belgium. We want to roll the project out worldwide in 2020.

Around the world, we promote the reduction of process safety incidents and improve risk awareness with a culture of dealing openly with mistakes and initiatives to foster dialog around potential safety risks. At the Ludwigshafen site in Germany, the PSI reduction initiative was held for the fifth time in 2019. In the past, this initiative mainly focused on the implementation of technical measures, such as introducing a tool to visualize safety measures during maintenance work and startup processes for production plants, for example. In 2019, discussions centered for the first time on specific events and their behavior-based causes. Another topic was the competencies needed to prevent such events from happening again. This new approach involves targeted training and is initially being tested by three plants. Further plants will adopt the proven concept on a step-by-step basis. Bolstered by a cultural shift in risk awareness, North America again made avoiding and detecting all leaks a key priority in 2019.

We play an active role in improving process safety around the world in a global network of experts, through our involvement in organizations such as the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), and by fostering dialog with government institutions.

1 Hours worked by BASF employees, temporary employees and contractors

Health protection

  • Global standards for corporate health management
  • 2019 Global Health Campaign “moment_to_moment” focuses on mindfulness

Our global corporate health management serves to promote and maintain the health and productivity of our employees. Our worldwide standards for occupational health are specified in a directive that is implemented by a global network of experts. This was once again supported by numerous emergency drills and health promotion measures in 2019.

We measure our performance in health protection using the Health Performance Index (HPI). The HPI comprises five components: recognized occupational diseases, medical emergency preparedness, first aid, preventive medicine and health promotion. Each component contributes a maximum of 0.2 to the total score, meaning that the highest possible score is 1.0. We aim to reach a value of more than 0.9 every year. With an HPI of 0.97, we once again reached this ambitious goal in 2019 (2018: 0.96).2

Development of the Health Performance Index (HPI)
Development of the Health Performance Index (HPI) (bar chart)

Our 2019 Global Health Campaign “moment_to_moment” focused on mindfulness. The aim was to sensitize our employees to conscious and safe behavior in their everyday working and personal lives. Over 500 sites worldwide took part in the health campaign with activities such as mindfulness workshops, courses, talks and exercises.

We raise employee awareness of health topics through offers tailored to specific target groups. The BASF health checks form the foundation of our global health promotion program and are offered to employees at regular intervals.

2 Our updated corporate strategy realigns our goals from 2019 onward. In this connection, the global Health Performance Index target was converted into a reporting indicator. More information on our strategy and goals

Emergency response, corporate security and cybersecurity

  • Regular review of emergency systems and crisis management structures
  • Comprehensive protection measures against third-party interference

We are well prepared for crisis situations thanks to our global crisis management system. In the event of a crisis, our global, regional or local emergency response plans and crisis management structures are engaged, depending on the impact scope. We involve situation-related partners and suppliers as well as cities, communities and neighboring companies. A new IT system to support emergency response was introduced in 2018/2019 to speed up communication between the relevant actors in the event of a crisis and maintain the best possible overview of the situation. The crisis management team can now record and process events around the world better and in more detail.

We regularly check our emergency systems, crisis management structures and drill procedures with employees, contractors, local authorities and emergency rescue workers. For example, in 2019 we conducted 277 drills and simulations in Ludwigshafen, Germany, to instruct participants on our emergency response measures.

We analyze the potential safety and security risks associated with investment projects and strategic plans, and define appropriate safety and security concepts. Our guiding principle is to identify risks for the company at an early stage, assess them properly and derive appropriate safeguards.

We protect our employees, sites, plants and company know-how against third-party interference. This includes, for example, analyzing potential security risks in the communities surrounding our production sites and addressing in depth the issue of cybersecurity. BASF has a comprehensive program in place to continually improve its ability to prevent, detect and react to cybersecurity incidents. By establishing a global Cyber Security Defense Center, BASF significantly expanded the availability of its cybersecurity experts to ensure around-the-clock protection. We cooperate closely with a global network of experts and partners to ensure that we can protect ourselves against cyberattacks as far as possible. Our IT security system is certified according to ISO 27001.

Around the world, we work to sensitize employees about protecting information and know-how. For example, we further strengthened our employees’ awareness of risks in 2019 with mandatory online training for all employees and other offerings such as seminars, case studies and interactive training. We have defined mandatory information protection requirements to ensure compliance with our processes for protecting sensitive information and perform audits to monitor this.

Our worldwide network of information protection officers comprises around 650 employees. They support the implementation of our uniform requirements and hold events and seminars on secure behaviors. We provided information protection instruction to more than 96,000 participants in 2019. Our standardized Group-wide recommendations for the protection of information and knowledge were expanded to include additional guidance for employees and updated in line with current developments.

We inform business travelers and transferees about appropriate protection measures prior to and during travel in countries with elevated security risks. After any major incident, we can use a standardized global travel system to locate and contact employees in the affected regions.

Aspects of human rights related to site security, such as the right to liberty and security of person, are a component of the global qualification requirements of our security personnel. Respect for human rights is a mandatory element of any contract with service providers of the BASF Group who are active in this area.